by David Safier
Let me lay my cynical self aside for a moment — don't worry, he'll be back — and express a rare feeling related to politics: a feeling of being proud of some politicians and other public figures. It's kind of a nice feeling, even though I know it won't last.
A few minutes ago, I heard for the first time some statements Colin Powell made over the weekend about the sorry state of the Republican Party. I was taken aback by his clear description of some of the not-so-hidden racist comments about Obama made by high level Republicans during the campaign. "Damn," I thought, "there's Colin Powell telling it like it is, not trying to couch his statements in gentle language that won't offend anyone." Nothing he said was new, but Damn! It was Colin Powell saying it. I honestly felt proud of the guy for throwing caution to the wind and being so forthright.
I've had similar feelings of pride toward Joe Biden lately. Here's the guy who's been labeled the Clown Prince of the Obama administration by Republicans and the media. Then when it counted in the campaign, he came on like gangbusters during his debate with Paul Ryan. A few weeks ago, he was the guy Mitch McConnell called in to help him broker the tax hikes for the rich, and Joe made it happen. He's also the guy Obama tasked with putting together gun regulation proposals, and he talked to everyone — including bringing in the NRA — and he brought in his recommendations ahead of schedule, two weeks earlier than Obama asked for them. There's something about Biden that I find endearing anyway, but Damn! I'm proud of the way he's stepped up to the plate and hit the ball out of the park when it was necessary.
Here at BfA, we kind of ganged up on Ron Barber, insisting that he take the lead on the gun regulation issue, that he use his closeness to Gabby and the bullets he took on January 8 to hammer home the point that we need to ban assault weapons and extended clips. This freshman Congressman has risen to the challenge, telling his story on national television again and again, being part of the Congressional task force on gun violence and committing himself to carrying on the fight any way he can, knowing he's in a Congressional District where his prominent position could cost him votes (though my sense is, it will earn him supporters and votes in the long run). Today I saw a picture of him at the table where Biden's group was meeting with the Congressional group. Damn! I felt proud of this guy who is in a real sense an accidental politician, yet he understands this is the moment when he can, and should, be part of history in the best sense.
Obama held a press conference today where he said you don't hold the country hostage over the debt ceiling, we're not a deadbeat nation, this isn't an area where the Republicans can insist the Democrats swap budget cuts for something that simply has to be done. Congress has to raise the debt ceiling or grant Obama the power to do it, period. AZ Blue Meanie likened it to Obama burning his boats to signal to the other side he won't retreat. It's a bold move. Obama looked and sounded strong and presidential up there at the podium. Damn! I felt proud of him for saying no to the hostage takers.
Then on a less political note, I saw the Wheelers talking with Rachel Maddow a few minutes ago. Their young son was one of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. Anyone with eyes and ears could feel the depth of their grief as they spoke. Yet instead of dwelling on themselves — and God knows they had every right to think of nothing but their own pain — each of them said, we swore to be good parents to our children, and we will continue to be good parents to the child we lost by working to make it less likely this kind of thing will happen to other children.
I'm not a fool. I know reality will set in, and some of these wonderful moments will be compromised and justified away. I expect that. But for as long as it lasts, I'm going to feel a sense of pride about what public figures, and grieving parents who have been dragged into the spotlight, can be at their finest moments.